Nigerian Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), toured Samaria Thursday and planted vines with local authority head Gershon Mesika.
The RCCG claims to have churches in more than 100 countries, and Adeboye was named one of the world's 50 most influential people by Newsweek in 2008. His followers are said to number tens of millions in Africa, Europe and the USA, and he is sometimes referred to as "the African pope." Mesika and Samaria Liaison Bureau chief David Ha'ivri accompanied Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara on a trip to Nigeria recently, as part of their efforts to find allies for Israel in these embattled times.
Adeboye is in Israel as Mesika's guest. He met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.
The pastor is accompanied on his trip to Israel by dozens of senior officials from various African countries, and by several European MPs. He visited communities in Samaria, saw Shechem and the Tomb of Joseph from a lookout point, visited an antiquities site and toured a vineyard. He planted vine seedlings in Har Beracha, whose grapes are used in acclaimed boutique wines, and was the guest of honor at a special reception by Har Beracha Yeshiva Head Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.
Rabbi Melamed told the pastor: "We are very glad to host our distinguished guest. We were glad to hear that you support the Nation of Israel and that you are happy that we have returned to the Land of Israel. We hope that people like you imbue the world with much truth, goodness and kind acts."
Pastor Adeboye said: "I believe that the problems we see between Jews and the rest of the world are because they are G-d's chosen. When you are special in the eyes of G-d, automatically people will dislike you. I do not see why anyone should think that the Jews may not live in their homeland. I believe that no matter how hard they try, they will not be able to move the Nation of Israel from the place G-d gave their forefathers."